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Animator

Animators bring drawings and computer generated characters to life on screen.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £36,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need skills in drawing, modelling or using computer animation packages.

An animation or art-related HND, foundation degree, degree or postgraduate course could be helpful.

You could start as a studio runner and progress to assistant animator.

You'll need a showreel DVD or online portfolio to show your talent.

You could also enter animation competitions, visit festivals, and send short animated films or ideas to broadcasters. This will get you known in the industry and help you to start building a network of contacts.

Creative Skillset has more information about careers in animation.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • creativity and imagination
  • drawing and modelling skills
  • communication and presentation skills
  • IT skills

3. What you'll do

You'll work in animated films, TV, adverts, games, websites, or music videos, using hand-drawn, traditional, computer-generated imagery (CGI), stop-frame, stop-motion or model animation techniques.

Your day-to-day duties could include working with others like:

  • production designers to create the look
  • storyboard artists to take the script or ideas and show the story in a visual way
  • layout artists to draw how each shot will look
  • digital painters to touch up colours
  • texture artists to  'paint' colour and texture onto digital models to make them lifelike
  • compositors to join together different layers of animation

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £20,000

Experienced: £22,000 to £28,000

Highly Experienced: £36,000 and over

Freelance animators are usually paid a fee per project. Rates can vary based on experience and the type of production. The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on current pay guidelines.

You could get a bonus at the end of a project.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 35 to 40 hours, Monday to Friday.

You'll be based in an office or studio. In stop-motion animation you may spend a lot of time on your feet adjusting models. In other types of animation, you would spend most of your time sitting at a computer or drawing board.

You could work from home if you're freelance.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress from a junior role to animator, lead animator and animation director.

You could also work for larger animation studios, games developers, interactive media designers or video post-production firms.

You might decide to go freelance or start your own studio.

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Last updated: 10 April 2017